Backyard Bountiful (HOME Magazine May 04)

As seen in HOME MAGAZINE, May 2004
Produced and styled by Laura Dye Lang
Paragraphed By Richard Felber
Written by Tom Connor

Backyard Bountiful

How did this lush garden grow? With one potting shed, 500 boxwoods, and unlimited homeowner vision.

This outside freestanding colonial-style town house was painted pink and aqua and the dirt yard held only a few scraggly bushes. But that didn't deter Mar Jennings from buying the month old, three-story in 1997. After looking at scores of houses in Westport, Connecticut's competitive real-estate market, his thoughts kept returning to this quirky narrow structure that offered the architectural details he craved in an established neighborhood of older homes. As for the charm and landscape it lacked, Jennings who loved to garden knew he could cultivate it. Seven years latter, he turned his home from a neighborhood curiosity into a mini showplace.

Curb appeal came quickly in the forms of a classic taupe, white and black exterior paint scheme and a new lawn bordered by a painted-white picket fence. Then the real challenge began: Turning the backyard into a private Eden. He anchored this area with a brick and Belgian-block patio bordered by the lawn. A new 8-foot-high cedar fence buffers the rear of the property, and 22 eight-foot-high 'Emerald Green' arborvitae, set close together, offer privacy on one side of the house.

On the opposite side of the yard, he implemented a grander plan, extending the 26-foot-long driveway another 15 feet toward the back of the property. It culminates in a new two-story outbuilding Jennings designed to mimic the main house. Though it could be used in a pinch as a one-car garage, this new structure is really a glorified potting shed, or "garden studio", as Jennings calls it. The garage door on its front opens for a wheelbarrow rather than a car. And the first floor is neatly stocked with flowerpots and gardening supplies on shelves and tools suspended by hooks.

Over the years, Jennings has filled the patio with teak furniture and decorative cement containers of standard roses, bacopa, and white violas. "Rosebrook Gardens," as the owner christened his suburban paradise, has become the star of the neighborhood, host to community home-and-garden tours, and a selling point for the houses on the street, according to Jennings.